by Randy Heacock, Leadership Minister
As we continue, day after day, in this time of social distancing, there are moments I find myself feeling like I have discovered a bit of a routine. Meanwhile, there are moments of hazy confusion, when I need to remind myself what day of the week it is. One moment there seems like there are a lot of new things going on; the next it seems like another 24 hours of the same old thing.
In the last 3 weeks, I experienced the high of seeing my daughter get married and the low of burying my father.
With this weird mix of highs and lows, busy and bored, normal and unusual, I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3. Perhaps you remember the song by The Byrds, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” which states much the same:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. -Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NRSV)
This text comes out of the wisdom literature of the Bible. It contains the wisdom of the people of Israel as they learned both from God and from the circumstances of daily life. There is the awareness that there are different seasons to life. It acknowledges what appear to be opposite ends of the spectrum, such as a time to gather and a time to throw away. Often we tend to embrace one of these ends, and consider it good, while trying to avoid the other, and labeling it as bad.
Perhaps we are to live more in the tension, somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, rather than merely embracing one place and running from the other. For example, in both the wedding and the funeral I attended recently, there were tears of loss but also celebrations of profound joy.
In relationships, it is always good to be at peace. But there are times, even in our best relationships, when we experience conflict, which may feel like war. If we hold these things in tension, while looking to God, we can find hope and energy. Perhaps the call is to simply remain present and wait on God.
A few people have expressed to me how this pandemic has provided them the space to sort out things they have neglected for many years. In a culture that believes busyness is better than stillness and accumulation is better than reduction, consider what we can learn from the biblical wisdom that proposes a time for everything.
How might we continue to learn what God has for us? What new practices might we develop as we come out of social distancing? There is a time to reflect and a time to practice.